4 tigers found dead in Goa sanctuary, Centre names 2-member probe team

The spate of deaths have caused a huge dent on the image of Mahadei Wildlife Sanctuary (MWS), which is a tiger corridor.

Published: 10th January 2020 06:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th January 2020 06:01 AM   |  A+A-

The carcass of a tiger found near Golavali village of Sattari taluk in Goa | Express

Express News Service

KHANAPUR (K’TAKA-GOA BORDER): In what is believed to be a case of poisoning, four tigers, including two cubs, were found dead in the Mahadei Wildlife Sanctuary of Goa, situated close to Khanapur over the last few days, triggering outrage among wildlife activists across the region. The Goa government has now ordered a detailed inquiry into the issue.

The spate of deaths have caused a huge dent on the image of Mahadei Wildlife Sanctuary (MWS), which is a tiger corridor. After the carcasses of the four tigers were recovered between Sunday and Wednesday, in Gulaveli village of Sattari taluk in Goa, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has constituted a two-member probe team. The team of Rajendra Garawad, AIG, NTCA, RO Bengaluru, and the Regional Deputy Director (western region, Mumbai) has been directed to submit its report within a week.

On Sunday, the carcass of a four-year-old Royal Bengal tiger was found in Gulavali village, sending the Forest officials into a tizzy. Gulaveli is deep inside the Mahadei Wildlife Sanctuary, which is part of a contiguous tiger corridor enjoining parts of Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka. According to sources in the Forest Department, the tiger had died at least a week ago. Forest officials suspected that the tiger may have been poisoned by villagers for preying on cattle.

According to reports, the tiger was found in a highly decomposed state near a water body in Golavali by a group of villagers who were performing some rituals. Two days later, Forest officials spotted a dead tiger cub in Golavali during combing operations. On Wednesday, another cub and a tigress were found dead in the same region.

After preliminary investigation, the authorities arrested Vhito Zipo Pawane (60), Malo Nago Pawane (55) and Gomo Nago Pawane (46), all residents of Gulaveli village. A local court in Goa has remanded them to police custody for three days. Sources in the Forest department said the post-mortem report of the first tiger pointed out to missing claws, raising many questions.

The Forest officials suspect that poachers may have removed the claws which fetch good price in the black market. It also came to light that the tiger had recently killed a buffalo and cow in the Golavali forests.

According to the recent tiger census, MWS is home to five tigers, of which four are dead now. Under intense pressure, the officials expedited combing operation in the forest to ensure that the fifth tiger was safe inside, said wildlife activist Vithal Shelke, who is also part of the ongoing combing operation.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Rajendra Kerkar, a member of the Goa Wildlife Advisory Committee, said that all the five tigers of MWS are of one family.

He said that after the cubs started growing up, the elder male tiger is suspected to have been separated from the group due to which they hope it is safe.  Kerkar said that the female tiger, along with her cubs, is suspected to have killed a buffalo and cow owned by a villager by name Pawane.

The Pawane family may have poisoned the tiger family, he alleged. Kerkar said that a tiger usually leaves its half-eaten prey mid-way to drink water away from the spot for a certain interval. During the same time, the villagers are suspected to have poisoned the half-eaten buffalo. The carcasses of the two cubs and the tigress were found buried near Pawane’s house.

Government will investigate and take action: Goa CM

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who termed the death of tigers as shocking and saddening, tweeted that his government will investigate and take action against the perpetrators. In another tweet, he said, the state authorities are working round-the-clock and arrested three persons in this connection.

Also, the @moefcc has constituted a committee to investigate into the matter, he added Opposition leader in the Goa state assembly and former CM Digambar Kamat tweeted, “Most shocking to hear about the murder of a tiger family by poisoning in Sattari. I condemn the heinous act and demand Goa CM to ensure that the killers are caught and given harshest punishment. Let us live and let the tigers live.’’

Expressing concern over the tiger deaths, Health Minister and local MLA Vishwajeet Rane appealed to Union Minister Prakash Javdekar to send a central team to conduct an inquiry.


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